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Interior Upcycle

Kettle Lamp

Jonas Design Kettle Lamp

Whether it is a desire to be a little different, quirky, or mindful of our contribution to rebuking the throwaway society, upcycling is a growing trend in the home and interior design world.

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. In other words “poshing up” the trash!

I recently went to a workshop held by a Sydney stylist, taking us through one of her Sydney based clients bars.  One of the key things that came through, aside from the importance of starting off with a good solid colour palette, is taking an object and thinking outside the block about how that object can be used in a functional way, for example taking an old tin trash can and making a light out of it.  Of course the ultimate secret is to have a good network of tradies who are able to help you realise some of those ideas!!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the beauty of a blog is it also becomes my easy to access little black book of ideas, inspirations and places to go.  I am forever ripping out articles from magazines and jotting down names and addresses which just fall to the bottom of a dusty pile never to be found again when I need them…. So to try and upcycle my little black book I have put together a directory of some of the hidden treasures and recommendations of places to go in Sydney (and occasionally else where).  Here are a few of the good places to get you started.

Doug Up On Bourke

Doug Up On Bourke – Waterloo Sydney

Doug up on Bourke is one of the largest sources of industrial, commercial, rustic antiques and hard core collectables in Sydney.  You can spend hours in this store browsing at the ever changing vintage emporium.

Doug Up On Bourke

old printing blocks – Doug up on Bourke

All the stock is sourced in Australia and they specialise in mid 1800’s to late 1950’s. You name it you are likely to find it in this store from old pigeon hole units, filing cabinets, rustic kitchen tables and trestle tables, advertising signs and old road signs, to industrial work benches, chairs, old bakelite phones, lovely old suitcases and shipping trunks, rustic sawhorses, childrens toys and chairs, enamel buckets, early tram and bus rolls and not forgetting their extensive selection of more than 200 old watering cans. If that is not enough then perhaps some old medical instruments or taxidermy will be your thing!!

Doug Up On Bourke is a great place to browse, and take a trip down memory lane, “a place where surprises lurk and memories of the past come flooding back”.

The stock is ever changing and they also have a prop hire service.  All stock is available for hire.

The Heritage Building Centre

Door knobs from the Heritage Centre

Old salvaged Spiral stair case

“With displays including antique water features to statuary; entranceways, gates & doors from around the world; recycled timber with its natural that can be tailored to create that very special look for flooring, pergolas, feature walls, structural, custom-built doors, bench & table tops; chandeliers & lighting from around the world both period & country available as originals & faithful recreations; fully restored fireplace originals & recreations; pressed metal; architectural antiques & elements from Australia & around the World.”  If you are looking to restore a heritage property or just to add a little bit of history to your project this is a good place to start.

Home Furniture on Consignment – HFOC

This is the orphanage of all the designer furniture, looking to be adopted to a suitable home.  The founder found a gap in market based on his own experience of downsizing properties or simply moving to a new property where the style of the existing furniture no longer fits the new home the owner has chosen.  HFOC specialises in selling (and buying) good quality second hand furniture.  It is a one off place so if you see something you like you need to buy it as they don’t hold multiple stocks. So if you have a champagne taste, then you can satisfy this with a little reduction in the price tag if you hare happy go second hand.

David Met Nicole

David Met Nicole – Surrey Hills

A perfect nostalgia trip, stepping back in time amongst items sourced from the 1900’s through to the 1950’s… a shop brimming with hand sourced quality pieces with an industrial slant from the UK, France and America. From furniture, Jewellery to printer blocks.  All you need is the Gramaphone on and a warm cup of cocoa.  Situated just up the road from the 1950’s Argentinian restaurant Porteno – you should make a day of it!


Junktique in Glebe proudly refers to itself as a “flea market”, they do not profess to sell antiques or retro furniture.  They source furniture from all over the world, once again it is a case of be quick or you will loose out.  They source unusual fun pieces at relatively reasonable prices, no pomp and circumstance.

They state “if it is a little mad we love it and we want it recycled”

Reverse Garbage

Last but certainly not least – saving the ultimate in recycle till last. Reverse Garbage was started by a group of teachers in 1974. They wanted to achieve two things; cheap materials for their classrooms and to divert industrial discards from landfill.

Almost 40 years later Reverse Garbage is the largest creative REUSE centre in Australia. They are still diverting materials from landfill (15,000 cubic metres or 50 football fields per year last time we counted) and run a variety of educational services in the process.  It is probably easier to list what they do not have over what they do have.

Happy Upcycling…… just remember for the perfect one offs you have to be persistant and quick…. the old motto you snooze you loose springs to mind, but you will have heaps of fun trying.  On with the colourful journey……..

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